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Br J Radiol. 1988 Dec;61(732):1127-35.

The radiobiology of 24 keV neutrons. Measurement of the relative biological effect free-in-air, survival and cytogenetic analysis of the biological effect at various depths in a polyethylene phantom and modification of the depth-dose profile by boron 10 for V79 Chinese hamster and HeLa cells.

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Environmental and Medical Sciences Division, Harwell Laboratory, Oxfordshire.


HeLa human carcinoma cells and V79 Chinese hamster fibroblasts have been irradiated in vitro with a beam of neutrons with a nearly pure 24 keV spectrum. The relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of the filtered neutron beam relative to 60Co gamma radiation was determined by irradiation of cell cultures "free-in-air". The values obtained for the RBE at 37% survival were 5.8 +/- 0.8, at a dose of 0.69 +/- 0.06 Gy for the HeLa cells and 3.14 +/- 1.1 at a dose of 1.09 +/- 0.091 Gy for the V79 cells. Cytogenetic analysis of the damage in irradiated V79 cells gave an RBE of 6.7 +/- 1.4. Irradiation in a polyethylene phantom markedly attenuated the beam's biological effect. For both cell lines 2 cm of polyethylene virtually eliminated cell killing. Addition of boron 10 to the medium led to increased cell killing and a value of 4 was obtained for the RBE of the 10B(n, alpha)7Li reaction in HeLa cells.

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